Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sleepy babies aren't all they're cracked up to be!

It amuses me that some people on Facebook are dying of suspense from the birth story!  That's really exciting for me.  But, come on, you know generally how it ends - we have a baby girl, right?  :-)  I do want to finish that story, but first, I feel compelled to share our major challenge over the last month.  I know new parents typically have no time and get little sleep, and probably all have their own unique struggles.  I don't know how much folks talk about them, though, so here is ours - with feeding.

I'm sure many parents do this - before your first baby, your head is full of ideas about how things will be and how babies work.  Before Abby was born, when Kevin's mom told us that Kevin was such a good sleeper that she had to wake him up to eat, my two thoughts were:

1. Great!  I was a good sleeper, too, so maybe that means we'll have a good-sleeping baby!
2. You had to wake the baby up?  Hogwash!  Babies will wake up when they are hungry!

Guess what?  Abby is a sleepy little baby.  We still have to wake her up to eat.  At first, we ALWAYS had to wake her up to eat.  And, she would fall asleep in the middle of eating.  I'd have to mess with her - pinching her, tickling her, wiping her with a damp washcloth - to keep her awake to eat.  And, a few times, nothing we came up with would keep her awake.  It's only been within the last few days that she's expressed hunger without us waking her up of a dead sleep, first.  Guess what else?  Having a sleepy baby isn't as great as it might sound, although I can see where those with fussy babies might disagree.

Being sleepy is just part of the equation, though.  I had a little bit of a challenge with breastfeeding in the hospital, which I chalked up mostly to lack of experience/practice.  Also, she was especially sleepy those first days, and at that point it was okay to let her sleep, so we weren't even breastfeeding that much.  From the get-go, though, the lactation consultants thought that she might have a tongue tie.  A tongue tie is when the frenulum - the narrow piece of skin under you tongue that connects it to the bottom of you mouth - is too short or too tight.  When a baby has a tongue tie, they often can't latch onto the breast properly.

So, for the first few weeks, we were having very long feedings - 45 minutes, an hour - one night, I was switching her from breast to breast for an hour and 45 minutes before it seemed like she was done.  By taking her to the local breastfeeding support group, though, and weighing her before and after a feeding, I learned that for all that time, she wasn't taking in quite an ounce, which wasn't really enough, especially with all the work she was putting into it.  The lactation consultants advised me to pump and supplement her with a syringe after breastfeeding.

Then, we had a few days when we couldn't wake her up to breastfeed or keep her awake to eat for more than a few minutes at time.  It was very stressful. Also?  Either because of her tongue tie or weak suck or something about my breasts, nursing was pretty painful, and I had blistered nipples and everything.  I am thankful for all-purpose nipple ointment.

So, anyway, this all added up to much worrying and very little sleep or time to do anything else - I was nursing something like 12 hours a day.  It was especially rough over the holidays, when Kevin's family, and then my family visited.  I spent half the day tucked in our bedroom feeding Abby.

Things are starting to look up, though.  I started attending another breastfeeding support group at Mercy, and I like it a lot better than the one here in Harford County.  The consultant there was very concerned about Abby's weight gain, so I am pumping and we are primarily bottle-feeding at this point to get her weight and strength up.  The plan is to transition back to primarily breastfeeding.  This pumping and bottle feeding thing is for the birds.  Kiddo eats 10-11 times a day, so that's how many times I need to pump, and after just a week and a half, it's getting kind of old.  But she's putting on weight at a normal rate, now, and while she is still relatively sleepy, she will let us know when she's hungry and will stay awake during feedings.  We also took her to an ear, nose, and throat doctor to have her tongue tie looked at, and got it and an upper lip tie taken care of.  In case you're wondering, the procedure was not a big deal at all.  Just a little laser zap, and she was good to go.

I'm hoping the next few weeks we'll be able to get back to primarily breastfeeding, and that we will be more efficient at it.  I think I'll feel like we have a little more freedom after that.

Birth Story Part II is coming!


  1. Glad you found a group that worked for you, even if it means driving. Sanity is important!

    1. If you decide to go to a group, the lactation group at Upper Chesapeake isn't bad - it just wasn't fitting my needs as well. They are really committed to breastfeeding and will help you with any issues. But they basically told me to stick it out with our half-assed breastfeeding and supplementing with a syringe or two after every feeding for 3 weeks until we got the tongue tie looked at. And who's to say how long it would take for her to eat properly after the tongue tie procedure, if that was even an issue? The consultant at Mercy was a little more realistic, and concerned about her weight gain.

      Another thing I like better about the group at Mercy is that it's actually facilitated - so people go around and share their issues, and sometimes others will jump in. The one at UCMC is more like a social hour with breastfeeding, which is a good way to meet people if you're social, but it's helped me to hear what other people are going through or have gone through. Some moms have had similar situations as mine and have chubby, breastfeeding babies now, which is encouraging!

    2. Good to know. We went to the class Saturday morning to hear what she had to say. We asked at our other 2 classes if dads went to that one and everyone said yes, but we were there on a dad light day and I kept getting the evil eye from Mike. :) I'm still hoping it's a realistic goal, but cautious since my body never cooperates!

  2. I forgot to add that, although having a sleepy baby with eating issues is stressful, I am thankful she's not screamy. As frustrating as this is, I imagine that would make a parent want to pull their hair out.


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